Virgin Media CEO claims net neutrality is “bollocks”

by billso on Monday, 14 April 2008

From Boing­Bo­ing, Memex, SaveTheIn­ter­net, Ten­Per­cent and Tor­rent­F­reak comes this story: Vir­gin Media’s new CEO, Neil Berkett, believes that net neu­tral­ity is “bol­locks”. He wants to sell faster access on Virgin’s broad­band net­work to the high­est bid­ders — most likely large por­tals and advertisers.

Of course, Vir­gin Media could also use QoS (Qual­ity of Ser­vice) pro­to­cols that are built into mod­ern TCP/IP imple­men­ta­tions to mar­ket a pre­mium high speed ser­vice that would let sub­scribers get faster access to the entire Inter­net — for a price.

I dis­cussed net neu­tral­ity in a billso.com post on 4 March 2008. It’s an impor­tant topic, espe­cially as tele­com firms and gov­ern­ment look for new ways to squeeze more rev­enue out of subscribers.

There’s a long dis­cus­sion thread at Boing­Bo­ing, with com­ments from sev­eral UK read­ers who want to break their Vir­gin Media con­tracts over this issue. Vir­gin Media is one of the largest providers of Inter­net broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity in the UK. It’s pos­si­ble that the UK gov­ern­ment will stop Virgin’s plans to shift almost all traf­fic to a lower priority.

Char­lie Stross believes that Vir­gin Media, which used to be NTL/Telewest before a rebrand­ing effort in 2007, is drop­ping pack­ets for res­i­den­tial con­nec­tions that use routers.

After the media atten­tion regard­ing Phorm’s adver­tis­ing cook­ies, which I dis­cussed in a billso.com post on 9 April 2008, one would think that British tele­coms would be a bit smarter than this.

UPDATED 20 May 2008: Kim­ber­ley Edwards has some addi­tional com­ments in her 24 April 2008 arti­cle.

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  • http://billso.com billso

    Cory Doc­torow of Boing Boing has posted an open let­ter to Vir­gin Media, ask­ing the com­pany to explain themselves.

    Mean­while, Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told a gath­er­ing of ISP exec­u­tives that Con­gress might recon­sider its shel­ter­ing of ISPs if net neu­tral­ity was threat­ened in the US. See ArsTech­nica for more.

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